Well known as having a very enterprising population, in both good and bad ways, it should not be surprising that Nigeria's largest city, Lagos, may soon be home to one of the world's most innovative transportation systems.
Silicon Valley-based, skyTran, which is headquartered at Nasa Research Park, has developed patented new personal and cargo transportation systems which it intends to deploy in Nigeria and elsewhere around the world.
The systems, known as Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) and Cargo Rapid Transit (CRT), use MagLev technology and encompass an elevated rail, along the underside of which levitating, energy-efficient pods travel.
According to reports, once the pods reach a speed of just 10mph, they can glide without any additional power but are also able to travel at speeds of up to 155mph. The company also says the system can be installed for approximately $13m per mile, compared to around $160m per mile for an underground rail system.
The company has a demonstrator system in Israel, which reportedly showcases all the components required to roll out a commercial system and is also used for testing, monitoring, and improvement of the technology.
Funding for skyTran announced
In mid April, skyTran revealed it had executed a bridge loan tied to a $30m series B commitment. According to the company, the agreement, negotiated and managed by Verita Merchant Bank, a boutique Hong Kong-based private investment and merchant bank, will allow skyTran to continue its global sales plans and product roll-out.
Speaking about the investment, Jed Schutz, CEO of Verita Merchant Bank, said: “Along with our investors, we recognize the combination of a big vision, outstanding management, and cutting edge technology applied to growing urban gridlock. We have every confidence that skyTran, its patented and patent-pending technology, and its unique position in the market is assured.”
Innovative transport for Lagos
As a part of the product rollout, skyTran has announced its intention to build a 40km (approximately 25 miles) system in Lagos, Nigeria. The system’s implementation, initially for the Yellow Line of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, will become part of a Lagos-wide new transportation network as a first step towards continued expansion in Lagos, Nigeria and the rest of Africa.
According to a statement from the company, the move will provide “an important foothold in the awakening Africa transportation sector, and joins other skyTran initiatives in India, Israel, France, and the USA”.
“This opportunity opens the door to a new era of transportation in Africa,” said skyTran CEO, Jerry Sanders. “Today, one of the major impediments of African growth is its poor transportation infrastructure. With the first African skyTran system, we have the opportunity to show Africa and the world a better way to move: reducing congestion, pollution, and stress while increasing GDP.”